By day I’m an anthropologist. I dig up bones. I measure them. I massage the data, then make my best guess about who they belonged to. Sometimes, I try to figure out how they got that way. It’s the sort of thing I used to do by collecting fingerprints and bullets, but now I play with skeletons and demographics. Having worked on war crimes investigations, my research tends to focus on the wholesale methods of making bones.
By night, I’m a writer. Mixing my experience as a crime scene investigator in with other elements, I change the names and stir vigorously. The process yields everything from mystery to horror to urban fantasy to science fiction. I try to tell enough of a lie to keep things interesting, and enough of the truth to get at the heart of the matter. What I mean to do here is explore some of those intersections: reality vs. story, good vs. evil vs. stupid, and the layering of traits that make characters compelling in both a novel and real life. Since reality trumps invention on a regular and rather frightening basis, I will also be looking at the roles of coincidence, probability, dumb luck, and pure plain weirdness.
I live in San Francisco’s Bay and Delta region, so I’ll be mostly be talking about local cases. My first series of posts, however, will deal with a string of homicides that stretched out almost the entire length of California. Some are world-famous, and some are still (officially) unsolved. And one took place in my home town.